CA-WN Monthly Meeting notes 16 March 2023
Present: Alexina Cassidy, Briony Askew, Dave Anderson, David Garlick, Dmitry Borisovich, Ella Mansfield, Eugenia Wilson, Harry Mellor, Jane Wood, John Thomason, Ken Ritchie, Leonie Beale, Orianne Neyroud, Peter Nalder, Rupert Frost, Rupert Knowles
Apologies: Clare Robertson-Marriott, Clare Slater, Emmie Williamson, Jonathan Harris, Olivia Stevenson, Patsy Hollingum, Richard Hollingum
This meeting was recorded and can be watched on the CA-WN YouTube channel
'Investors in the Environment - WNC's approach'
A presentation given by Joely Slinn, West Northants Council Sustainability Officer, and David Knight from Peterborough Environment City Trust (PECT). PECT is the charity that runs the Investors in the Environment (iiE) accreditation scheme for businesses.
Investors in the Environment
David Knight gave an overview of iiE, which PECT started in 2010. Some key points from his presentation:
· iiE is designed to break down sustainability into manageable pieces, easily accessible by any organisation
· iiE members make a commitment to cut emissions in half by 2030
· Certification enables organisations to show what they are doing, promote continual improvement and look for opportunities to make impactful change. PECT provide support and help throughout the process.
· The process starts with appointing sustainability champions and developing policies, as well as working on the tools and skills to set targets and create action plans. Internal and external stakeholder engagement from the start is key to successful delivery.
· Organisations are also expected to introduce environmental and social projects that have a wider positive impact.
· 3 levels of iiE – Bronze, Silver, Green. Most organisations start at Bronze, which includes calculating carbon footprint and gathering data. Silver moves on to setting and delivering against targets. Green includes broadening the focus of environmental action and impact of the organisation within their community and through value chains.
· Four main categories within iiE – management (leadership and governance); climate change; nature and natural resources; pollution and waste (circular economy).
· At Green level organisations should be working towards a minimum 2% reduction in carbon emissions every year and aiming to increase this as they become more mature. They might also be working within their supply chain to improve suppliers’ carbon footprint and seeking to become a leader in the field of sustainability.
· PECT carry out an annual audit of performance against iiE criteria and guidance.
· PECT also offers an online learning management system to help organisations upskill and runs annual iiE awards.
West Northamptonshire Council’s approach
Joely started by summarising WNC’s commitments and delivery so far:
· Sustainability strategy and pledges
· Commitments to achieve Net Zero for the council by 2030 and for West Northants as a whole by 2045
· Cross party working group has been set up for members (aka Councillors) which is helping to drive organisational culture and understanding
Benefits of iiE process and accreditation:
· A management system and tracking of progress
· Showcase achievements
· External verification adds credibility
· Show commitment to leading by example and influencing others to follow similar approach, in line with WNC’s pledge to be a community leader on sustainability
WNC actions and plans:
· Current scope for iiE is WNC corporate buildings
· Introduced an environmental policy to formalise appropriate leadership and governance; this will be published on their website soon
· Measuring use of all resources (energy, water etc). This was being monitored by predecessor councils but each one did it differently, so has had to be aligned
· They will be setting targets for the next financial year (2023/24) at the end of March
· Action plans have been introduced for each of the resources being measured e.g. there is an energy awareness campaign in offices to help reduce demand
· Baseline emissions report for 2022/23 has been delivered
· Removal of disposable coffee cups (150 per day) from the Angel Square staff café
· Regular progress reporting to staff and introduced a staff sustainability network
· The iiE Bronze accreditation audit is expected in the next few weeks
Q&A after the presentation:
· Explain more about the circular economy? It’s about keeping materials in use for longer, as opposed to the linear model of using and disposing, for example single use plastic items. Organisations can incorporate circular economy principles by considering what they buy, for example. (More here: What is a circular economy? | Ellen MacArthur Foundation)
· Cost of iiE accreditation? This varies depending on size of organisation and level of PECT support. Three 3 price plans: basic for small companies (1-50 employees, single site); more advanced for medium-sized organisations; enterprise level (large and/or complex organisations). Basic £996 per year, advanced from £1,450 per year, enterprise level from £5,000.
· How much time does accreditation require from an organisation? Approx. 2 hours a month; one of the first things PECT encourage is to develop a team to work on iiE so that it is not the responsibility of a single person. Organisational approach should share the workload.
· How does WNC help parish councils with limited resources to introduce schemes such as community solar panels? Felicity Ward from Sustainability Team is looking at how community energy projects can be supported. In terms of more general support, the team are happy to engage with parish councils, including coming out to talk to them where possible.
· What encouragement for small businesses (e.g. hospitality industry) to make changes? WNC can help to share experiences and build networks for small businesses, and are looking at funding opportunities to help businesses on a net zero journey.
· How does WNC engage with constituents about the journey they are on and the need for it? No simple answer… Engagement is ongoing – try to lead by example and show the benefits. Saving the planet is not necessarily the best motivation for all – for businesses it’s often the bottom line so emphasise where there can be cost savings. Create the conversation and make sure you share what you are doing.
· Does accreditation cover contractors? Just in house activity at present, however major contractors such as Kier and Norse have made their own commitments to net zero.
· Are area-wide carbon emissions also being baselined and reported? Yes, report has been written and going through approvals.
· Does ‘going beyond’ for the Green level include going for negative zero? Yes that would be part of being a leader in this space including biodiversity commitments.
· Is there space for carbon offsets to achieve net zero? A carbon removal scheme is necessary though not yet clear what that will look like. In the meantime we have carbon offset but it is absolutely critical for businesses to demonstrate carbon reductions first. WNC has been looking at offsetting and what the acceptable limits might be to meet net zero targets. There is no set tolerance for councils yet but the science based target initiative for businesses has set tolerance at 10%. Offsets should only be used for completely unavoidable residual emissions.
· A suggestion that WNC consider linking up with organisations such as South Court Environmental which are already practising circular economy.
· What about methane, a more damaging greenhouse gas than carbon? What is referred to as carbon footprint is actually ‘carbon equivalent’ so it takes into account all greenhouse gases including methane.
· Advising where to bank and invest pensions etc? Yes, iiE asks organisations to look at where they are placing their money.
· Does WNC have a strategy for working with schools? Looking to engage more with secondary schools, initially by running a youth summit but there was limited interest. However WNC are going out to 2 schools who were very interested. Schools emissions were included in WNC baseline figures and this energy use will have to be reduced.
Vote of congratulations
Dr Paul Slater spoke to CA-WN in January about the work he is doing with others at Northampton General Hospital to cut use of anaesthetic gases, and has now won an Excellence Award from Northants NHS Trust. Massive congratulations to Paul, this is his citation for the Sustainability Champion award:
· Tea & Cake with CA-WN in Towcester on Saturday 18 March
· UoN sustainability summit on 15 and 16 May (there is a £100 delegate fee, reduced to £75 if booked before the end of March). More details and registration UON Sustainability Summit 2023 | University of Northampton
Building Resilience project update
· CA-WN is working with a company based in Weedon to complete assessments of property thermal performance. Visits are taking place this week to put data loggers in the 10 pilot properties, they will be collected after 3 weeks and the data processed to provide reports. The output will be shared with the group as a whole when available.
· The objective is to provide householders with the ability to understand the thermal coefficient of their home, which is different to the desk-based rating provided by an EPC.
Date of next meeting:
Thursday 20 April 7:45pm